Why isn't Calxeda's ARM processor running at 2GHz or more?

Calxeda made a lot of news with multiple news articles.

HP Builds Servers With Cellphone Chips

New York Times (blog)‎4 hours ago‎
Hewlett-Packard announced on Tuesday a new design for some of the world's largest computer centers and says it could reduce power consumption in some cases by 90 percent. The design, called Project Moonshot, replaces the conventional...

Calxeda Stretches ARM into the Clouds

Wired News‎4 hours ago‎
By jonstokes On Tuesday, Austin-based startup Calxeda launched its EnergyCore ARM system-on-chip (SoC) for cloud servers. At first glance, Calxeda's looks like something you'd find inside a smartphone, but the product is essentially a complete server ...

Calxeda Introduces EnergyCore ARM Processor for Servers

PC Magazine‎4 hours ago‎
The EnergyCore can draw as little as 1.5 watts for a dual-core server chip, and can create a full quad-core server, including 4G of DRAM and an SSD, that draws just five watts of power. But what makes the chip stand out, ...

ARM Breaks Into One Of Intel's Strongholds (ARMH, INTC, HPQ)

San Francisco Chronicle‎5 hours ago‎
Chip designer ARM has long dominated the market for smartphones and tablets, leaving Intel scrambling to catch up. Now, it's getting chance to break into one of Intel's strongholds -- server hardware. This morning, Hewlett-Packard announced a plan ...

HP Plans Low-Power Servers Using Calxeda ARM Chips

InformationWeek‎5 hours ago‎
HP's tiny servers built on Calxeda's energy efficient Cortex chip are designed to handle large Web data streams, video processing, picture uploading, or Hadoop-style big data analysis. By Charles Babcock InformationWeek HP on Tuesday launched Project ...

But, I don't know if I am as excited as the press is.  Why?  I have been talking to ARM for over a 3 years on the opportunities for ARM servers in data centers and have been waiting for over a year for Calxeda to make a chip announcement.

So, looking at the specifications.  One of the questions i have is why does the Calxeda processor run at 1.1 - 1.4 GHz and not at 2GHz?

EnergyCore™ ECX-1000: Technical Specifications

Processor Cores

  • Up to four ARM® Cortex-A9 cores @ 1.1 to 1.4 GHz

Here is the spec for the A9 processor.

Speed Optimized: The speed-optimized hard macro implementation provides system designers with an industry standard ARM processor incorporating aggressive low-power techniques to further extend ARM’s performance leadership into high-margin consumer and enterprise devices within the power envelope necessary for compact, high-density and thermally constrained environments. This hard macro implementation operates in excess of 2GHz when selected from typical silicon and represents an ideal solution for high-margin performance-oriented applications.

In the HP press announcement there as quote to emphasize performance needs.  So, why not a 2 GHz clock rate?

“The volume of data processed in financial markets has increased exponentially, and traditional scale-up or scale-out architectures are struggling to keep up with demand without vastly increasing cost and power usage,” said Niall Dalton, director of High-Frequency Trading at Cantor Fitzgerald, a company that is currently evaluating the technology. “HP is taking a holistic approach to solving this problem and working to bring unprecedented energy and cost savings for tomorrow’s large-scale, data-intensive applications.”

Another question I have is what is the architecture to manage the Energy Cards.  This could be the opportunity for HP.

EnergyCard Reference Designs

EnergyCards are production-ready boards designed by Calxeda to demonstrate the full breadth of capabilities offered by the EnergyCore platform. With this as a building block, system OEMs can leverage Calxeda’s design expertise, allowing them to easily bring hyper-scale solutions to market in a fraction of the time required for ground up custom designs.


The HP Redstone Server Development Platform is the first in a line of HP server development platforms that feature extreme low-energy server processors. Initially incorporating Calxeda EnergyCore™ ARM® Cortex™ processors, future Redstone versions will include Intel® Atom™-based processors as well as others. HP Redstone is designed for testing and proof of concept. It incorporates more than 2,800 servers in a single rack, reducing cabling, switching and the need for peripheral devices, and delivering a 97 percent reduction in complexity.(1) The initial HP Redstone platform is expected to be available in limited volumes to select customers in the first half of next year.